Mobile music: reaching a mass market

After many false dawns, finally it appears that 2012 was the year of mobile, as use of smartphones and tablets reached a tipping point that makes them compulsory platforms to reach a mass market. The situation is no different for music, and all in the industry are looking for ways to reach consumers on internet-connected mobile devices.

This month, radio station Kiss FM launched its Remixer iPhone and iPad app, developed by audio app specialist Soniqplay. It allows listeners to download songs and apply their own creative touches through production software. Built-in social media sharing options allow aspiring DJs to show off their handiwork to friends, at the same time helping to spread awareness of the Kiss brand and the song.

But it is not only the radio station that benefits from fan engagement: each download counts towards the song’s place on the official music download charts. According to Kiss head of commercial programming Liz Cunningham, it was Soniqplay that approached the station with the app idea, but Kiss immediately saw the attraction.

“The time spent in apps overtook web browsing on mobile and desktop for the first time a year ago. People are spending 90 minutes a day in apps, which is a huge chunk of time,” says Cunningham. “The biggest proportion of that is spent in gaming apps. Our app gives us an opportunity to reach that space.”

Ministry of Sound is one of the record labels providing songs that can be downloaded through the Kiss app and head of mobile Tom Bulwer says the users are likely to be “hipsters, budding DJs and music tech geeks”. The target group is mostly male, aged 16-24 and into urban and dance music. He is optimistic it will provide as much of a boost for the recordings and artists as it will for the radio station.

“It will expand audiences because of the extra support Kiss gives to artists offering audio for the app. It goes both ways, and if the artist is behind the concept, it will reach out to a section of his and Kiss fans that are into making beats and interacting with music.”

Also on mobile devices, music streaming apps such as Spotify, Deezer and Last.fm have had a huge effect on the way music is consumed, and handset maker Nokia is attempting to make its Nokia Music service the most “mobile optimised” on the market, according to vice president of entertainment Jyrki Rosenberg. The latest app update, which allows free instant access to 17 million songs and to playlists that can suggest new music to the casual listener, is being heavily pushed by Nokia as a unique selling point for its Lumia 920.

Rosenberg points out that Nokia Music requires no registration or software downloads, running on an app that is installed on all new Lumia phones. There are also no ads and music is available offline as well as online. He contrasts all these elements to the features of more established competitors’ apps: “All of these other services have been designed primarily for a Mac or a PC, in what we call a ‘lean forward’ experience. It’s for someone who is investing not only money but time.”

By comparison, says Rosenberg, Nokia is seeking to create a mobile experience where finding new music should never require more than two clicks.

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